Should Lasers Be Banned?
By A Real Person on August 18, 2010
Careful where you wave that thing. Even in ‘Merica, the country where you can get a free AK-47 with a purchase of a pickup truck, you’ll face 180 days in jail for aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft because of the possible hazards. That’s just any regular ol’ laser pointer. Now, check this thing out:
This Spyder III Pro Arctic, a class IV laser, is so powerful and bright that you can actually see the beam. It has an output power approaching 1W…for reference, your typical commercial class II laser pointer will only be about 1 mW, 1000 times less powerful. How much damage can one watt do? Well, supposedly this laser can ignite human skin. Even if it doesn’t, the blue light can cause immediate and irreversible retinal damage and cause cancer. So…a lot. It can do a lot of damage.
It’s also totally legal in the U.S. and costs about $200.
I have a tough time being at ease with that. I know a lot of dumb people who have $200 lying around who would be waving this thing like a lightsaber all willy-nilly. No, I wasn’t talking about me. I don’t have $200.
In Australia, being caught in possession of a class III laser—less powerful that the Spyder III—can land you in prison for up to fourteen years. That might be overkill, but we are talking about a country with mandatory porn filtering.
In America, class IV lasers require a key-switch for safety, but are otherwise legal. Now I’m all for the second amendment, but I also don’t want to catch fire. Or cancer.
One company would definitely be happy for a ban, though: Lucasfilm Ltd. has sent a cease and desist to Wicked Lasers, claiming that the Spyder III looks too much like a lightsaber.
What do you guys think?